Barbadians demanding Extension of Drama with HIV-warning: “I Have No Son – Rico’s Story” moves many to tears!
Dy Browne – I hate you... You have no right making a grown man cry more than once, with the compassion you conveyed in small gestures and decisive scripting; I hate you for being such a masterful Director that a sensitive topic as AIDS and Homosexuality was not laughed at by a sold-out audience… Instead of typical Bajans giggling insensitively at tender parts, you actually gripped the viewers from start to finish and held them spellbound – making them want to know what happened next at the end of the amazing ground-breaking play!
You are known for Comedy, with Nala for Ad Lib at Nelson Arms, how dare you show you are so versatile, dammit? Much as I hate to admit it, there are people in Tourism who miss your Saturday Night Live-esque satires of Bajan lifestyles… So let’s look at why I am so incredibly jealous of you…
“I Have No Son: Rico’s Story” holds no bars, the language is street when it needs to, yet can be romantic, chilling, technical or intellectual like a tapestry depicting every level of society in Barbados. The final night of the play was delivered to a packed to capacity Walcott-Warner Theatre at Cave Hill in UWI’s Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination!
The dramatisation came from a story by Andre Greenidge, a medical researcher, he wanted to convey to Bajans the pitfalls and the way forward from an HIV Positive lifestyle, but rather as a dry textbook Andre sought to create a realistic setting where the data is part of and not THE story itself. Dy Browne, an incredibly talented and superbly trained Actor/Director, translated the story for stage and is now being justifiably challenged into making an expanded version for Film!
Any wonder why I despise Dy so? How DARE he be that successful! One play? Arrgh! Bajans want more, can you believe?
Let’s see why, my only concern was the beginning, when Rico imagined his former friends circling him and torturing him when they learned he led a bi-sexual lifestyle and did not bother to learn WHY it happened… It was not for the squeamish, since there was coarse language which used both Jamaican and Bajan slurs for those who choose to have Gay relationships…
It was because this part of the drama seemed to go on for about five minutes, if it was to make me uncomfortable it worked, two minutes would have sufficed and then get into the story! I still am amazed that parents would drop their own children on learning their offspring is HIV-Positive? Rico, as portrayed by Marcus Miller, a promising young financial whiz from UWI, is ditched by his own mother and thus the title “I Have No Son,” on can only imagine the heartbreak where those who gave you Life deny you their support when you need it most!
He lives a wild party-boy life for a while but decides to settle in to his studies and along the way his own mother introduces Rico to the man who would become the bane of his life… Andrew Pilgrim plays Ralph Jordan, a character not too far from his original interpretation of one of the main roles in Thom Cross’s “The Final Truth“ a role which for film was taken on by Ian Walcott. Ralph is a secretly bi-sexual banker who uses his BMW as a means of forcibly seducing Rico as a means of initiating a truly dangerous liaison!
This is juxtaposed with Rico’s desire for a heterosexual lifestyle with Monique (Ayesha Gibson of VOB 92.9 also Director of “It So Happen: Timothy Callender Suites” another production given short shrift), an attorney from another Island (some feel Trinidad, others felt St Lucia) which was never mentioned, so Rico falls for her deeply and wants to marry her and yet when the time comes to tell her the truth? She has a surprise of her own – a Scorpio baby is on the way after their Valentine’s night of celebration; which means Rico ‘thought‘ he was safe from the “NASTINESS” of Ralph and had unprotected sex with Monique.
The sets were cleverly handled with judicial use of furniture, chairs arranged carefully either conveyed a car or a waiting room depending on the circumstances. Actors doubled up on roles – Ayesha also is Sasha (Rico’s 1st UWI conquest, whose legs are apparently like margarine? Spread easily?) while Andrew Pilgrim is a UWI party-boy who sports a low Gangsta-ish wool cap and ‘shades…
A technique that was incredibly moving and very effective was when Rico told Monique the truth… Each part of his story which needed the right Voice was displayed by the appropriate character – Amanda Cumberbatch (also an alumni of the stage version of ‘The Final Truth‘) as the Doctor from the Ladymeade Reference Centre who told Monique that contracting HIV is not a death sentence; Ralph Jordan‘s voice was to reveal Rico did what he thought was nastiness to become a successful businessman while through Rico’s own mother he told Monique about how he felt he wrecked his future with her?
Only to learn she still loved him and loves him even more for being so honest (grabs Kleenex here), afterwards there was a wag in the audience who wanted to know why a foreigner had to be so compassionate? For my part, there are few Bajan women who would be so kind – not that there are none, just few and far between. A Trini or Lucian is not so outside the realm of possibility…
Ishiaka McNeil as the doctor who told Monique she and their baby were HIV Negative, after 3 weeks of rigorous testing, was very good and also diverse when compared to his understandably pompous portrayal yet popular musical role in Timothy Callender’s “It So Happen.”
The whole nature of the play craftily executed and tastefully delivered begged for a Q&A afterwards but apparently due to time-constraints folks had to pack up and be off before curfew… Dr Yearwood, you need to offer the Guards an incentive known as Overtime and not roll up the sidewalks directly at 10:30 or go to Jail without passing ‘GO‘ nor collect $200, ok?
For example, with a Q&A one could have explored the fact that since Ralph knew he was HIV Positive a decade ago and still had relations with anyone including Rico then this is tantamount to murder as recently was ruled in Germany (Rico tried to beat the crap out of Jordan and I could not blame him, he forced Rico into a needless corner that took the young student down a dark path of being that much closer to fatality). The topic of Drug Formulary and Anti-Retroviral Cocktails to treat HIV which can be purchased from India or Brazil cheaper yet just as effective as Pfizer, Glaxo-Wellcome and other Rx giants also should have been examined!
But since Dy will be very busy between the film-version of Rico’s Story to come and Ad Lib possibly at more than one location, then I guess I can put the hate on pause and convey sympathies for his imminent exhaustion? Hard work for justified recognition, a small price to pay?